Department of Earth Sciences

An integrated approach toward understanding our planet

In studying the system Earth and other planets, the Earth Sciences contribute to answers on social and economic questions that concern: 

  • the natural means of existence (water, energy, raw materials),
  • the terrestrial environment (including remediation of pollutions),
  • natural hazards (such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and floods),
  • and the use of terrestrial space (specifically near surface and underground space).

The Earth Sciences integrate the principles and methods of physics, chemistry, geology, biology, mathematics, and computational sciences. We specifically develop new scientific hypotheses, methods of data analyses, and experimental and observational techniques that enable us to reconstruct and predict the interactive behaviour of the solid Earth, the biosphere, the hydrosphere, and the atmosphere, on scales ranging from seconds to billions of years, and from nanometers to the entire globe. We honour James Hutton’s early insight that "from what has actually been, we have data for concluding with regard to that which is to happen thereafter".

International center of excellence

The Department of Earth Sciences is the largest academic Earth Sciences institute in the Netherlands, and among the larger ones in Europe. Over recent decades, its staff of 175 to 200 researchers and Ph.D students has created an international centre of excellence in scientific research and research training that actively contributes  to addressing the challenges we face in developing a modern, sustainable society.

The national focal point of Earth Sciences

Utrecht is the national focal point of Earth Sciences in The Netherlands. At Utrecht University research groups from the Faculty of Geosciences and the Faculty of Sciences study a large spectrum of topics concerning the solid Earth, its hydrosphere, its biosphere and its atmosphere. Key national applied research institutes, including the Geological Survey of the  Netherlands (TNO) and the Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute (KNMI) are located on campus or in the nearby area, which stimulates collaboration and strengthens the quality of research and education.


Future delta's
11 November 2015
The Utrecht University research focus area Future Deltas is organizing the EGU2016 session Sustainable management of river deltas under pressure.
30 October 2015
Dr Jorien Vonk and Dr Walter Immerzeel have both been awarded an ERC Starting Grant.
29 October 2015
Approximately 250 scientists met to present, discuss and listen to what sustainability means for Utrecht University.
Hornsund Spitsbergen
15 October 2015
Seven scientists from Utrecht were among an expedition to Spitsbergen this summer



Department of Earth Sciences